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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 44  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 253--256

Cooperative learning with role play in Chinese pharmacology education

Jun Wang, Xiamin Hu, Jinglei Xi 
 Department of Pharmacology, College of Medicine, Wuhan University of Science and Technology, Wuhan - 430065, China

Correspondence Address:
Jun Wang
Department of Pharmacology, College of Medicine, Wuhan University of Science and Technology, Wuhan - 430065
China

Abstract

Background: Cooperative learning (CL) and role play are both efficient educational tools for enhancing Chinese student active learning and communication skills. Objective: This study was designed to obtain student feedback on the format of CL together with role play in the study of pharmacology in Chinese pharmaceutical undergraduates. Materials and Methods: CL was used in the self-study of new drugs used clinically but neglected in textbook and class teaching, so that groups of students were assigned to become «SQ»«SQ»specialists«SQ»«SQ» in one area of new drugs. Then, these «SQ»«SQ»specialists«SQ»«SQ» taught their new-found knowledge to other groups in role play approach involving an interaction between the pharmacist and a patient. Student perceptions of CL together with role play were examined using an eight-item survey instrument. Results: Students were satisfied with CL together with role play. Majority of the students believed this teaching method enhanced their learning experience, made them gain more pharmacological expertise, increased the awareness of their career in future and self-educational abilities, and fostered their cooperation spirit and confidence. The materials on CL and role play were also believed pertinent. Only 63.4-76.5% and 63.1-37.3% of the students thought «DQ»CL and role-play were very funny«DQ» and «DQ»I felt very relaxed during CL together with role-play«DQ», respectively. Conclusion: CL together with role play is an efficient educational tool for enhancing student active-learning and communication skills. But Chinese students will take some time to adapt to this new teaching method.



How to cite this article:
Wang J, Hu X, Xi J. Cooperative learning with role play in Chinese pharmacology education.Indian J Pharmacol 2012;44:253-256


How to cite this URL:
Wang J, Hu X, Xi J. Cooperative learning with role play in Chinese pharmacology education. Indian J Pharmacol [serial online] 2012 [cited 2022 Oct 4 ];44:253-256
Available from: https://www.ijp-online.com/text.asp?2012/44/2/253/93862


Full Text

 Introduction



In Chinese pharmaceutical undergraduate education, the reform and innovation of teaching methods have great importance. In the past, much of the material delivered to students is through ''presentation'' of factual information via passive teaching methods, which are called "lecture-based teaching'' or "duck-stuffing teaching methods". But with continuous development of higher education and healthcare in China, conversion of training objective in pharmaceutical education to undergraduates was presented. "Student-centered" and active-learning methods are greatly encouraged. A lot of innovative approaches have been taken to engage pharmaceutical students in the learning process and enhance their learning experience in China.

Adopting up-to-date methods is more urgent for pharmacology teachers. Pharmacology embraces rich contents involving over 100 drugs and related knowledge including mechanisms of drug action, numerous detailed facts about drug classes and individual compounds, and even the diseases for which the various drugs are used. [1] Students avoid pharmacology, and perceive it as a more "difficult" learning area than other subjects in the undergraduate curriculum. So, teaching pharmacology to students has been a challenge. [2],[3] Also, a variety of new drugs are emerging with information about their mechanisms and other information increasing. Education of pharmacology needs to be radically reformed to contribute to better professional medical services and new drug development. [4] Usually only the prototypes of various drug groups are introduced in detail for the students owing to the limited teaching hours in China. The information about new drugs is usually insufficiently imparted. On the other hand, as healthcare professionals, pharmacists who are often decision makers in settings ranging from patient care to managed care often consult the literature to determine, for example, current practice guidelines or drug interactions or dosing. [5] Thus, pharmaceutical students should also be capable of conducting systematic searches using medical or health references to formulate responses to queries on drug information. Hence, the curriculum of pharmacology should also aim to instill students with the ability to critically analyze information and apply this knowledge to novel scenarios. Accordingly, innovative teaching methods are worth exploring in pharmacology teaching. In the present study, we have applied CL in the study of new drugs while role play has been applied in the exhibition of the results of CL. The assignment of CL introduced students to references for new drug information that are relevant to modern pharmacy practice. Searching these references would be a daunting task for an individual student, thus, a CL approach was taken. CL most often involves small groups of students who contribute to each other's learning [6] and encourage students to work together to achieve success rather than compete for a grade. [7],[8] In our study, the purpose of CL was to promote analytical skills for use of new drug information, then assign groups of students to become ''specialists'' in one area of new drugs. Then, these ''specialists'' teach their new-found knowledge to other groups in role-play approaches involving the interaction between the pharmacist and a patient. [9] In pharmacy, role play as a simulation methodology has been used primarily as a useful tool for developing essential patient-care skills, including communication, information- gathering, obtaining patient history, making an assessment and recommendation, and counseling patients regarding nonprescription medications. [10],[11]

 Materials and Methods



Two groups of undergraduates enrolled in the pharmacology course, in the third year of their pharmaceutical degree at Wuhan University of Science and Technology completed CL with role play. The study was approved by the Teaching Affairs Office (Medical College of Wuhan University of Science and Technology). The first group, the graduating class of 2011, was enrolled in fall 2007. The second group, the graduating class of 2012, was enrolled in fall 2008. CL together with role play was used in the pharmacological study of three chapters including drugs acting on peripheral and central nervous and the cardiovascular system.

After review of each chapter, CL together with role play was carried on for 30 min. CL project was implemented based on six-stage model of group investigation. [12] The role play was carried out according to the process used in patient care workshops for pharmacy students [10] [Figure 1].{Figure 1}

At the end of the course, students' opinions were evaluated with survey instruments. An anonymous survey instrument was developed to assess students' perceptions of CL together with role play as a tool to enhance active-learning and communication skills. The instrument was composed of 8 statements [Table 1] with a 5-point Likert scale used for responses (5, 1- strongly disagree to 5 -strongly agree). The items ''CL together with role play enhanced my learning experience'' were designed to measure the students' perception of CL together with role play as a way to enhance their learning experience. The items ''Learned more pharmacological expertise because of CL together with role play,'' ''CL together with role play enhanced my awareness of the career in future,'' "CL together with role play raised my self-educated ability'' and "CL together with role play fostered my cooperation spirit and confidence" were developed to capture students' idea of why they believed CL together with role play provided an enhanced learning experience. The remaining three items "The materials on CL and role play were pertinent" "CL and role play were very funny" and "I felt very relaxed during CL together with role play" were administered to examine whether the students liked the particular executive form of CL together with role play. In addition to the 8 survey items, students were asked to provide additional comments about CL together with role play if they desired. All the decisions were made based on the comparison with traditional teaching received in other professional courses.{Table 1}

 Results



All the students in both groups participated actively during CL together with role play. They were motivated to make adequate preparations, demonstrated enthusiasm, and were highly engaged in the process.

All students (103) completed the survey instrument. The perceptions of CL together with role play of both groups were similar [Table 1]. Student course evaluations related to CL together with role play were overwhelmingly positive. Their responses to the survey captured the multiple benefits of CL together with role play as supplements to traditional lecture formats. They strongly supported the application of CL and role play in the class. Only 1.9-3.8% disagreed, but not strongly with the idea that CL and role play enhanced their learning experience, some of whose additional comments were filled with "I'm not used to study in this way" or "I am accustomed to traditional teaching" and so on.

The vast majority of the students agreed or strongly agreed that CL and role play helped them learn more pharmacological expertise, enhanced the awareness of their career in future, raised their self-educating abilities; and fostered their cooperation spirit and confidence. Collectively, most of the students believed that this teaching method was an active-learning instructional tool is helpful to improve the overall quality of the undergraduates.

Besides, 82.7-96.1% of the students believed that the material on CL and role play was pertinent. Interestingly, only 63.4-76.5% and 63.1-37.3% of the students thought "CL and role play were very funny" and "I felt very relaxed during CL together with role play", respectively.

 Discussion



Both CL and role play are helpful for enhancing student active-learning and communication skills. [7],[8],[10],[11] Although it was difficult in CL to distinguish between individual and group performance, role play provided the opportunity for students to receive individualized attention. In this way, the two methods not only enhanced student learning and communication skills together, but also complemented each other. Driven by the "showing their self" in role play, students must be active in CL which is a bit boring for some students. In our study, the new teaching method of CL together with role play achieved good results reflected from the student responses to the 8-question survey. Nevertheless, as a kind of enjoyable teaching method easy to be implemented, CL together with role play is also appropriate for a wider audience beyond China.

Yet, some issues have been detected in the survey which cannot be neglected. For example, 3.9-17.3% of the students did not believe that the material on CL and role play was pertinent. In fact, the materials on CL and role play in our study were all new drugs which were often neglected in lecture-based teaching. So some students might not consider these new drugs as important. But as the drugs are used clinically, these materials should be taken seriously.

Most interestingly, only only 63.4-76.5% and 63.1-37.3% of the students thought "CL and role play were very funny" and "I felt very relaxed during CL together with role play", respectively. CL provides an enjoyable and nonthreatening environment in which they can receive help from their peers. [9] And role play is also an interesting teaching learning method. [10] But why so many students felt different about the format of CL together with role play in China? In the traditional teaching class of elementary school, high school, or college in China, students only need to listen to a lecture passively. However, CL as an active-learning tool, and role play as the format of self-expression would perhaps embarrass the students or make them nervous. The students reasoned that, they are "not accustomed to study in this way." Teaching reforms to encourage active-learning and self-expression is necessary for helping students to overcome these inhibitions. Perhaps faculty members could also help provide a more relaxed environment for students during such innovative methods. Promoting teacher-student communication after class, building a "pleasant teacher" image, injecting humor into the role play, and decreasing the difficulty of topic appropriately, etc., would also help implement this method more effectively.

We suggest that CL together with role play should be a supplement to traditional learning with a limited time of 30 min allowed after each chapter. A right guidance from teachers is necessary to overcome the reluctance to adopt the novel idea of learning. Thus teachers need to assist the students as they attempt to unravel the learning issues and act like a coach or facilitator for the student. Actually, we provided ongoing explanation and support to students via the discussion board. Moreover, the CL topic and progress arrangement should be adequately prepared in advance considering students' interest and ability. It is likely that students need some guidance in working in a group. In the role play process, faculty guides are also important. It is essential for the educator to work with the students to guide their reflection on CL together with role play.

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